God promised to reward our hardships here on earth
The word used for trials in the scripture is also translated as temptations or tests. It refers to any temptation, hardship or suffering that might cause us to sin.¹ God promised to reward us for all our obedient suffering in heaven, but he also promised “there is a reward for the righteous on earth”²
Like with Job, David, or Joseph, God’s rewards are proportional to the severity of the trial. Job received double of everything taken from him, right after his trial.³ When Joseph’s betrayals and hardships were over he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.”⁴ David was chased by king Saul for 13 years. But afterwards God established him and said, if all that I had given you wasn’t enough “I would have given you much more.”⁵ God promised to make our struggles worthwhile to us.¹² David spoke of God’s proportionate rewards when he said, “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us.”⁶
Part of God’s promise to reward us here on earth, is that his reward will be greater than the trial. Jesus spoke of this when he said, we will receive “a hundredfold now in this time (on earth)” of everything we give up for him.⁷ A hundredfold, is a phrase that means much more, he is not saying exactly 100 times more. Jesus also spoke of the hundredfold principle when he said, “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.”⁸ It should be noted that our obedience during each trial affects our hundredfold reward for that trial.⁹ If we are tempted to grumble against God, or hoard wealth, or lust for someone, and we sin, our reward will be affected by the degree we honor or dishonor God.
One of the reasons God promised us sufferings and hundredfold rewards here on earth, is to exhibit the death and resurrection of Jesus through us.¹⁰ “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”¹¹
The promise of greater rewards than hardships here on earth, seems to contradict verses like, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied”, or “we have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.”¹³ How can this be said of the Christian life if we receive hundredfold rewards? One way to test this promise, is to compare the rewards and sufferings of those in the bible. If hundredfold rewards are really what God promised, then Jesus should have received more rewards than anyone on earth. The scripture says “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces”¹⁴ The scripture also says, “he learned obedience through what he suffered, he was called demon possessed by the church leaders, and his family said he was out of his mind.¹⁵ Were Jesus sufferings rewarded a hundredfold here on earth?
Some of Jesus hundredfold rewards were not physical things, because joy and pleasure don’t necessarily come from physical things. For example, one of the times “Jesus greatly rejoiced in spirit” was when he saw the Fathers wisdom.¹⁶ Another non-physical reward was his fellowship or relationship with God. The love between Jesus and the Father was more than words could express. and the Father shared his thoughts with Jesus.¹⁷ The Father even publicly declared, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Jesus didn’t care so much what men thought of him, but what the Father thought, meant everything to him.¹⁸ God is ultimately our greatest reward.¹⁹
Jesus was also physically rewarded on earth. He cared deeply for those around him, and God gave him the ability to pour out his love and compassion on them. For three years Jesus went from city to city healing the sick and casting out demons.²⁰ He was given unmatched wisdom and authority to teach and he put all his opponents to shame. He was also bodily transfigured into a glorious form, and he preformed thousands and thousands of unique miracles like, walking on water or multiplying food.²¹
God said, “In the world you will have hardship”, but he also said “I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”²² God gives and he takes away, but he makes every hardship worthwhile.²³ Each trial and reward is building to an end goal, which God has planned in advance for each of us.²⁴ In Jesus case his greatest trial was the cross, and his reward was unimaginable.²⁵ In Job’s case his greatest suffering was a mid-life disaster, and his reward was that, “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than the first”, and he “died an old man and full of days.”²⁶ There are rewards for accumulated suffering, over long periods of time, and there are rewards for overcoming individual temptations. God is a good father, his goal is not to exasperate us, but to transform and bless us.²⁷ He knows when we need a reward or encouragement and he promised to help us through each trial.²⁸
To some Jesus said, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”²⁹ To others he said, “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”³⁰ Whether our current trial ends in death or whether it ends before we die, we can be sure God will reward us and his reward will make our suffering worthwhile. God promised that every part of our trial will work out for our good, because he loves us, he waists nothing, and our suffering is part of his plan.³¹ On top of these earthly rewards, we are also promised eternal rewards, which will so far outweigh any earthly suffering that it will be beyond comparison.³²
① Special Notes ② Proverbs 11:31 / Psalm 58:11 / Hebrews 11:6 / Mark 10:30 / 2 Corinthians 5:10 ③ Job 42:10-17 ④ Genesis 41:51 ⑤ 2 Samuel 12:7-8 ⑥ Psalm 90:15-16 ⑦ Mark 10:30 ⑧ Luke 6:38 ⑨ 1 Peter 2:20 / Galatians 3:3-4 ⑩ 1 Corinthians 15:21 / 2 Timothy 2:12 / Philippians 3:10 / 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ⑪ 2 Corinthians 4:7–12 ⑫ Romans 8:28 / Romans 8:37 ⑬ 1 Corinthians 15:19 / 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 ⑭ Isaiah 53:2-4 ⑮ Hebrews 5:8 / Matthew 9:34 / Mark 3:21 / Philippians 2:8 ⑯ Luke 10:21 / Hebrews 1:8-9 ⑰ John 5:20 / Ephesians 3:19 / Matthew 11:27 / John 8:55 ⑱ Galatians 1:10 ⑲ Genesis 15:1 ⑳ Matthew 8:16 ㉑ John 17:1 / John 12:28 / John 21:25 / Matthew 7:29 / Matthew 13:54 ㉒ Jeremiah 29:11 / John 16:33 ㉓ Job 1:21 ㉔ Ephesians 2:10 ㉕ Hebrews 12:2 / Philippians 2:8 ㉖ Job 42:12 / Job 42:17 ㉗ James 1:2-4 / Ephesians 6:4 ㉘ Isaiah 43:2 / 2 Corinthians 12:9 / Matthew 28:20 ㉙ Revelation 2:10 ㉚ 1 Peter 5:10 ㉛ Psalm 138:8 / Romans 8:28 / 1 John 4:19 / John 6:12 ㉜ Romans 8:18
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The Greek word for trials(Peirasmos) is also translated as temptations or tests. It is used to describe hardships or anything else that might cause us to sin. Here are some scripture verses showing the range of meaning to the word for trials: “if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials(Peirasmos)”1 Peter 1:6 “And when the devil had ended every temptation(Peirasmos), he departed from him until an opportune time.”Luke 4:13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal when it comes upon you to test(Peirasmos) you, as though something strange were happening to you.”1 Peter 4:12 “Serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials(Peirasmos) that happened to me through the plots of the Jews”Acts 20:19